Depression and anxiety is a widespread condition in the UK, which reflects the trends of prescription drugs. In recent years antidepressants became the fastest growing class of drugs in the UK.
From 2017 to 2018, antidepressants were among the five named groups of addictive prescribed drugs that came under review by Public Health England. 3
The review aimed to identify the scale, distribution and causes of prescription drug dependence. They found that 17% of the adult population in England were currently receiving a prescription of these medications. 4
Addiction to antidepressants
You may feel as if you are addicted, but is not the same as being addicted to some other drugs. You will not get the cravings or feeling the need to continually increase the dose that you take. This is unlike some other substances like alcohol, nicotine or benzodiazepines. But like any drug addiction, it can still be tough to stop taking them.
Do Antidepressants work?
According to data collected by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 50 to 65% of people treated with an antidepressant will see a marked improvement, compared to 35 to 30% of people taking a placebo pill. This goes to show that they are not effective for everyone and that belief and trust in treatment is just as important to the person being treated. 1
If you or a loved one are planning on coming off antidepressants, you should discuss this with a doctor and not just abruptly stop taking the medication.
Certain antidepressants can be more difficult to stop than others and have more severe withdrawal symptoms.
Ideally, after a course of medication has been completed and a patient’s condition stabilised for at least 6 months, with the help of medical advice, the medication can gradually be tapered off. The weaning off process is vital to prevent the illness from recurring and to minimise withdrawal symptoms. 2
Addiction withdrawal symptoms include:
- Increased anxiety
- Low mood
- Insomnia and sleep problems
- Changes in appetite
- Severe mood swings
- Rebound depression
- Poor impulse control
- Gastric problems
- Suicidal thoughts
- Erratic behaviour
Depending on the antidepressant, the help and support of a psychiatrist vastly decreases the chances of developing the more severe symptoms of withdrawal.
Antidepressant side effects
Depending on the drug prescribed, there will be a list of possible side effects associated with that specific medication. 4
Side effects tend to be more pronounced during the first few weeks of treatment. For an individual suffering, some side effects can be very distressing and difficult to cope with.
One of the more dangerous side effects commonly associated with first beginning a course of medication is increased suicidal thoughts. This is why they should only be prescribed following a comprehensive assessment by a doctor or psychiatrist. Very close monitoring and support will be needed in the early weeks of treatment.
Common side effects include:
- Increased anxiety
- Brain fog
- Stomach upset and diarrhoea
- Poor concentration
- Suicidal ideation and increased self-harm urges
- Erratic emotions and severe mood swings
- Feelings of emotional numbness
- Blood pressure changes
- Appetite changes
- Weight gain/loss
- Loss of sexual libido
- Sexual dysfunction
- Increased yawning
- Distressing thoughts
- Vivid dreaming and nightmares
There are many more possible side effects. Any troublesome or persistent side effects should be discussed with your prescriber immediately.
Can you drink on antidepressants?
Mixing alcohol with antidepressants is never a good idea. Alcohol is a depressant and prevents antidepressants from working as they should.
A depressed individual who drinks alcohol to ‘self medicate’ is also more prone to developing a problem with drinking. This is why it is strongly recommended not to consume alcohol whilst undergoing treatment.
Getting help for antidepressant addiction and abuse
Antidepressants do not suit everyone, nor do they work for everyone. Some people prefer to take a more holistic approach to heal. Many individuals benefit from combining traditional medicines with holistic treatments.
There can be many causes of an individual developing depression or anxiety disorders; a lifestyle overhaul can often work wonders in improving mild to moderate depression symptoms.
For more information on private drug addiction treatment programmes, call and speak with one of our friendly addiction treatment experts today.
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